Sunset girls tennis wins first state title since 1990
Out of curiosity, Sunset senior singles star Serim Jin went on a personal search, hoping to find out the last time the Apollo girls tennis program won a state championship.
Jin believed the easiest path to an answer was to look upward, at the rows and rows of white and purple state championship banners hanging high in the rafters above the gymnasium. But when the Apollo went looking, she couldn't find a tennis flag. Maybe it was tucked away in a deep corner, collecting dust after years of neglect. The last time Sunset won a state championship was in 1990, long before any of the current Apollos were born. One would understand if other titles pushed a nearly 29-year-old pennant toward the back of the line.
But now, thanks to Jin, Sunset's fearsome foursome of doubles' players and depth that would even make the private schools envious, the Apollos won't have to peruse for glorification much longer. The Apollos rolled to a resounding Class 6A state championship on May 18 at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center, piling up 28 points, nearly as much as second place Westview and third place Roseburg combined. Jin beat Westview freshman Karolina Dobiecka in the singles' championship while Bo-Bae and Jin Yu beat teammates Lucy Erickson and Yara Chehab in the all-Apollo doubles' final.
"Seeing one of those (banners) is going to be pretty cool," Serim Jin said with a smile. "We work really hard and it shows with the results. Just to end with a state title is a perfect way. Not only did I go undefeated, but my team did too. I'm just really happy to do this with this talented group of girls."
"I'm really happy to share this with these girls, we should all be proud of ourselves," Jin Yu said.
Sunset swept the 6A state tournament with singles and doubles and won the team total, a feat usually set aside for Jesuit or Lincoln in the 2010s. The large Sunset representation made for a pretty relaxed afternoon for head coach Bryan Lurie, who was able to sit back and enjoy his players' prowess. With the title wrapped up coming into the finals, Sunset's hired seamstress could get a head start on sewing together the latest, freshest state championship banner to place among the great teams of Apollo past. The program can probably anticipate a school-wide assembly too, along with any other spring sports stars before school gets out.
Serim Jin said she approached her Metro League district title match rematch with Dobiecka with the same methodology: stay steady through the ebbs and flows and compete from start to finish in a 6-2, 6-4 win over the young Wildcat.
"Playing this sport for eight years, I've grown with it," Jin said. "You can't play to not lose. You have to play to win. There are people who when they start losing, they stop trying. I can't stand that. It's not over until you've lost the last point. That's something I'm always going to carry with me."
High fives were aplenty as Bo-Bae and Jin Yu, identical twins who have years of playing together under their belt, overcame a 4-1 second set deficit and beat their Apollo pals 6-2, 6-4. The occasional infighting that occurs naturally between the two from thousands of matches played over the years was absent. The Yus stayed smiling and engaged with one another all-match long.
"We're as close as two human beings can be," Jin Yu said with a smile. "We're almost like Siamese twins. It goes both ways because when you're super close with someone you can lose that respect with each other. We still have to be respectful and be friends. There is no better partner for me than Bo-Bae and vice versa."
The Yus said they relished taking on Erickson and Chehab in the winner-take-all final because their opponents wanted the title just as badly. Each twin put on an exquisite display of shotmaking, with Jin Yu punching right-handed shots at the net and Bo-Bae answering with lefty slams through holes in the opposing Apollo defense. Erickson and Chehab made it tough on the twins, too, slamming volleys and strong serves.
"I thought it was a great match," Jin Yu said. "It had a lot of adversity. They played well in certain parts. We played well in certain parts. They're our teammates and we wanted the best for them too. At the same time, we had to sit down and focus. Once we blocked everything out we were fine."
Westview was paced by Dobiecka's second-place finish and a first-round win from Anju Mathew and Martina Chau, who lost to Chehab and Erickson in round two. Beaverton junior Cassidy Binder placed fourth in the singles' bracket. Jesuit junior Nicole Hopman reached the singles' quarterfinals where she nearly knocked top-seeded Jin. Hopman won the first set 6-4 and had Jin on the ropes in the second set before falling 7-5. Jin won the third set in commanding fashion 6-1. Still, Dobiecka, Binder and Hopman could all return to the singles' bracket next year as could the Yus, Chehab and Erickson.